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Old Nov 29, 2008, 1:31 PM   #1
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Hi all,
I've just got myself a nice new Canon G-10. Very nice it is too but I'm obviously not good enough to get the best out of it yet!

How would I avoid the overblown sky in this shot I took late this afternoon? Also, am I right in saying the term 'Overblown highlights' applies here?

Any tips most appreciated.

Thanks,
Tom
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Old Nov 29, 2008, 3:45 PM   #2
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In my opinion to get the best out of this kind of shot is to get yourself Photomatix Pro. Then take 3 exposures. One shot which is average between the bright sky and darker land. The next exposure will be underexposed by 2 fstops for the sky and the 3rd will be 2 fstops overexposed for the darker part of the land. Photomatix will put those 3 shots together and give you one sweet HDR.
Using your small sized low res image, Photoshop and Photomatix I came up with this. Nothing was artificially created. The clouds and foreground detail were in your photo.

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Old Nov 29, 2008, 7:48 PM   #3
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If you want an in-camera solution to this problem you'd need to use a graduated ND filter. Part of this filter is darker, like sunglasses, and then it goes to clear. That way you put the darker part of it over the sky so it cuts down on the amount of light reaching the sensor. Digital sensors, like film, can't see as much light/dark (dynamic range) as your eye can, so you need to cut the amount of light from the brighter part of the scene.

Otherwise, Photomatix or other software for creating HDR pictures (where you take several pictures using different exposure settings - one for the highlights, one for the shadows and one or more in between.
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 7:24 AM   #4
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Hmm, ok. And thanks for the tip, Bynx, I've pmed you back.

Is there anything I can do in terms of the metering method to get the blue back in that sky or is it just difficult with dark foregrounds and bright skies to get the sky looking nice and the foreground not looking too darK? I've had this same problem when shooting alpine valleys where I've been cycling along the valley floor with bright skies overhead. The valley often looks dark and the sky overblown.

Not sure if I can get a graduated filter for the G-10 anyway?
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 11:09 AM   #5
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You can try by pointing the camera down at the ground, then pressing shutter half way. Once focused you then move the camera into your shot. This may not create a better looking sky but it will lesson the darker bottom. I tried this in central park on a cloudy day and it works.


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Old Nov 30, 2008, 11:10 AM   #6
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And here is the shot when I metered using the ground
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Old Nov 30, 2008, 11:24 AM   #7
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The shot looks like the camera metered the exposure based on the ground and not the sky - therefore the sky is overblown.

If the camera metered on the sky, the ground would end up very dark with very little detail.

These cameras have "exposure latitude". Sometimes the difference between the darkest dark and the lightest light in the shot is too much for the sensor to handle, so the brightest part of the photo is sacrificed - "blown highlights".

The problem with overblown highlights is it's hard to recreate the detail.

So, you could point your camera more at the sky, and note the exposure selected, then point your camera more at the ground, and note the exposure selected.

Then, average the two, (let's say the difference is two stops of light, so the average is one stop).

Apply an exposure compensation of one stop and you'll get the average between the two.

The other thing you could consider is that some software has "dodge and burn tools". You could then burn the sky a little darker in "post production".

Another way that pro's try to deal with the limited "dynamic range" of their cameras is to take multiple photos, each one trying to get different ranges exposed correctly. One photo might look for detail in the "black" range, another in the "mid-tones", and yet another photo looking for the best exposure in the "highlights". Using software to combine three or more exposures looks for the best of all worlds - detail in the dark, mid-tones and highlights. All of this is making up for the fact the current cameras do not have the dynamic range to handle scenes with a wide range of contrast - like your shot with the dark ground and the light sky.

So there's no way you can "fix" the problem without understanding the relative light levels of the shot and how your camera is reacting to them - then apply a "fix" at the camera (ND filter or exposure compensation) or after the fact using software.

Perhaps in the future we will see digicams with better sensors and processors that will be able to handle greater dynamic range, and all this discussion will be moot because the camera will do all the work for us. Your shot above would come out perfect, without realizing that your next generation camera has the ability to handle a wide dynamic range that is unthinkable in 2008.

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Old Dec 1, 2008, 5:11 AM   #8
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Thanks Terry. Thats a good explanation of the issue. I went out and took a few shots yesterday afternoon in a similar setting. A bank of cloud splitting the sky and therefore the picture. I decided to compose the shot using the zoom to exclude the piece of clear sky above the clouds and found it was easier to get a balanced shot as I didn't have that bright band accross the top of the shot to try and work with.A work around by avoiding the issue I suppose!
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 7:58 AM   #9
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Heavymental,

Sure, that's one way to fix the problem!

Avoid the shot that has too much contrast in the scene.

Instead, compose the shot with a limited difference in contrast.

That's what a lot of photographers do, without understanding why.

-- Terry
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Old Dec 1, 2008, 8:50 AM   #10
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Up until now everyone has nicely demonstrated that given a contrasty day with a bright sky and dark foreground you can have a choice of one or the other but not both properly exposed without the use of post production software like Photomatix Pro which Ive explained or using Photoshop. Multiple shots with different exposures and in jpeg format or shooting RAW will produce the results you are looking for. If you dont want to go this route then you will have to wait for the next generation of cameras which will some day give you what you are looking for. An all in one properly exposed photo.

This example is not really a fair example because there is so much going on in the sky. Except for some color there isnt much you can do with the sky but lightening up the foreground is a simple 2 second fix.

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